I hope as an adult Gavin enjoys looking back through this blog (I keep a copy backed up) and comes to better understand his parents through these posts. As such, I thought I should write a little about one of my passions in life. I love financial matters. It's hard to say if it's genetic or learned behavior, but it definately runs on my mom's side of the family. I love making budgets, analyzing investment strategies, and doing taxes. Yes, I find doing our taxes to be interesting and fun. Often times when I'm bored I will play with an online amortization calculator or mortgage payoff calcualator to run "what if" scenarios. I enjoy a good financial management book too. I have ordered many from our library. I find it interesting to learn different philosophies on money management and apply them to our life (at least in an excel spreadsheet) to find which strategies work best for us. I haven't yet gotten into specific stock market theory, as my mom likes to follow, but maybe I will one day. I can remember as a child in our little house in the country having to change the channel to CNBC so my mom could check on the market. We'd have to wait for the ticker to go by on the bottom of the screen to get the info she wanted - before the internet life involved more patience. My mom taught me that the job description of a stay-at-home mom includes saving money however you can. I also love frugality. My own version of frugality. Which to me means spending money on things that are important to us and skipping everything else. And spending as little as possible on those things that are important. We don't do cell phones, except for my pre-paid for emergencies. We do have dish network and a dvr, but have the cheapest plan available. We drive 2 paid off cars, and won't be buying another one until we have to. We do eat out sometimes, but only at inexpensive restaurants. We order pizza almost every week, but Jake gets a large pepperoni and breadsticks for under $7 with a military discount at Little Caesar's. I do buy fresh produce and mostly healthy food items, but almost always on sale. I will spend a buck or two occasionaly on a diet coke when I'm running errands and really thirsty. We go out for ice cream sometimes, but usually only to McDonalds or Sonic. We are paying $65 a week for Gavin's swim lessons, because that is important to us. I only buy clothes that are on sale and stock up on Gavin's clothes when they are really cheap - I already have all his 3T and 4T clothes bought from Sears.com at $1-$2 per item. I have all Gavin's Christmas and birthday toys for the next year or 2 already bought, when they were on clearance. I get $10 haircuts. Our only debt is our mortgage. And we plan to keep it that way. One way I save money is through couponing. I started doing this a couple years ago and really enjoy it. I would call it one of my favorite hobbies. I combine coupons with store sales to get our groceries, cleaning supplies, diapers, and toiletries for as cheap as possible at grocery stores and drugstores. There are many websites devoted to this, my favorites being southernsavers.com and moneysavingmom.com. When items are on sale I stockpile them so that I won't have to ever pay full price. It has worked out quite well for us. My goal is to save at least 50% off my total on each visit to the grocery store through buying items on sale and using coupons. I usually reach this goal or come close. Today I spent $68.74 at Kroger and saved $80.69. That is, I got $149.43 worth of groceries for $68.74. Saved 54%. My favorite part is the free stuff. I haven't paid for toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, razors, or body wash in over 2 years. Almost every time I go to the store I get something free. Here are today's free items:
Example of how I get free stuff-
That toothpaste - usually $2.59 each. It was on sale 10 for $10, which really means $1 each. I had 3 coupons for .$.50 cents each, which Kroger doubles, = 3 free tubes of toothpaste.
I could have gotten as much free toothpaste as I had coupons for. On the websites I frequent people were reporting getting 20 or 30 tubes at a time. But I haven't yet figured out how to get a bunch of free coupon inserts from the Sunday paper where we live. If I ever do, we won't have to buy any more blocks for Gavin, because he could just use all the free boxes of toothpaste and kleenex. And as an added perk, I noticed today that the back of my Kroger receipt has 2 free adult buffet coupons for Stevi B's, our local pizza buffet. That is where Gavin enjoys dipping his breadsticks in ice cream. As Jake is fond of saying, "Bonus!"
This evening. The only way you can tell he's sick in these pictures is that he's licking the snot off the area between his nose and lip with his tongue. Usually when Gavin plays in the sprinkler or the pool I just let him go naked, but since his pants were on tonight I figured I should take some pictures.
Gavin is sick this week so no new pictures to share. There is, however, something I wanted to record before I forgot about it. Sometime at the end of last week I went in to get Gavin out of his room in the morning about 8am. Usually he wakes me up before that with the noise he makes bouncing around but that day no noise. So I open the door to his room and don't see Gavin. But I hear him jabbering and see a lump behind his curtains. Gavin had climbed up onto his windowsill and was standing behind the curtains and blinds with his face pressed into the window. That time of morning there are a lot of older people walking on our street and I can only imagine what they were thinking when they saw him.
It has been an extremely hot summer. Right now, at 6:58pm the heat index is still 105 degrees. And it's supposed to be hotter this weekend. We've decided that, if we can afford it, we're going to try to buy our next house in a neighborhood with a community pool. There are 4 such neighborhoods in our town, but only 1 meets all our preferences so we'll see. Our house still hasn't sold. Someone looked at it yesterday and liked it, but that was the first showing in a month. I wouldn't mind if it didn't sell till this fall, so that it wouldn't be so hot when we move, but Jake told me he'd happily move now. We're both ready to stop the uncertainty of trying to sell a house, but it's been nice saving extra money in the meantime.
Next week Gavin starts swimming lessons. He has a one on one lesson for 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week for 4-6 weeks. By the end of the lessons he is supposed to be able to swim independently and know what to do if he were to fall into a pool fully clothed.
blue (boo) (uses to indicate any color most of time)
bird (buh) (only said once so far)
bowl (only said once so far)
no (now pronounced correctly, and frequently)
Gavin's favorite phrase lately - "Momma! Help!...Please?"
I've been using this website, recommended by the speech therapist, to help Gavin with his letter sounds: http://www.starfall.com/
We're still working on the pronounciation of the beginning letter sounds - b,d,p,w,m,t. He can say them, but has trouble when combining them with other letter sounds. Through using this website, Gavin knows that an "m" makes the noise "mmmm."
This morning Gavin kept pointing outside at the car. I asked if he wanted to go bye bye and he said yeah. I asked where he wanted to go and he motioned as if he were donning a hat. I asked if he wanted a hat. He shook his head and pointed to the car again. I asked again where he wanted to go, and he pointed to his head again. I then realized he wanted to go back to the fun place where we ate lunch yesterday:
This is how Gavin has been taking his naps lately. He won't fall asleep if put in his bed, no matter how tired and cranky he is, he just gets up and plays (which might be ok if he wasn't playing with the window coverings.) The only way Gavin will take a nap lately is to fall asleep in front of cartoons. Usually Martha Speaks or Word Girl on PBS (which are on 3-4pm.) This is one of those things I wouldn't have foreseen myself encouraging before actually becoming a parent. He falls asleep in the living room, then I put him in his bed. Luckily at night he goes right to bed without a fight as long as I wait until its dark out.
This is an example of a typical interaction with Gavin lately:
One day last week Gavin handed me his plate after eating most of his food and said "deeez?". I asked "please what?" He tapped his index finger on his plate. I asked "what do you want to eat?" He pointed around the kitchen a little, I named various things, all of which he declined. Then he started making motions with his arms like he was swimming. I thought maybe he just wanted to go play in his pool so I asked if he wanted to go outside to swim. He said no, got a little agitated, then did the motion again and pointed to the pantry. I then figured out what he wanted:
Last week I bought Gavin a Mr Potato Head and he loves it. I use it with him to encourage speech, making him say the name of the body part before he puts it in.
Gavin is always proud of his creations and likes to show them off.
He made this last one all on his own. Every time I help him play with Mr Potato Head I have him put all the pieces in the correct places. I never even thought to do it any other way. Then the first time Jake picked it up he made a crazy 5-armed monster, which of course Gavin thought was funny. I'm pretty sure Gavin does know where everything goes, and was just making a monster here. Gavin pronounces potato "Dado"